Thursday, April 2, 2015

The O'Brien Show


The O’Brien Show
On April 2nd – today or yesterday, depending on my efficiency! – I appear on the new ITV O’Brien Show. And I found the experience quite disturbing. Its made me angry enough to  surmount my writers block, so silver linings and all that. 

The call came in late last week. Would I care to pop along to Manchester to take part in a debate on the new O’Brien Show. Hmm. Daytime ITV can be a bit of a bearpit, but I googled James O’Brien and discovered that whilst he is a minor controversialist, he has stood in on Newsnight as a presenter. Clearly not of the Jeremy Kyle persuasion, I thought… 

Standard practice, train tickets arrived and I dragged myself to the station for the 8am train heading Oop North. Four and a half hours. I arrived slightly frazzled. Unlike any other media engagement, I was left standing in the rain in Manchester for an hour awaiting a car to hoof me to the studio. Such is the life of the part time media tart. 

Arriving at the media centre I was faced by what seemed to be a mix between an airport lounge and a mental health outpatients clinic. I was searched and metal detected. A first for any media engagement, but a loud clue that I missed. What sort of show needs its guests and audience searched? One that is determined to provoke conflict, perhaps… 

Herded into the studio, microphones attached – the process is like being ever so politely indecently assaulted – then seated. Next to a woman who had lost three members of her family to murder. And in front of another family of victims. The other two ex cons were similarly placed. I had a sneaking feeling that all was not going to go as smoothly as normal. 

The headline question we were dragged from all over the country was meant to be, does prison work. What transpired was that each of us ex cons was berated by O’Brien for our past crimes, with him egging on various victims to skewer us. 

I talk about my crime. I don’t shy from it. If id been invited along to talk about that, then id still have turned up – and it would at least have been an honest process. But to lure us in for our views and then use us to prod at victims who have suffered appalling loss is pretty repugnant. But all standard for this show. The ethics of using victims of crime to stir up heat for a tv show is, I suspect, not a hot topic at production meetings. 

The first ex con was set upon. A young guy, ex drug dealer, he was seated next to a woman who had lost a sibling to a drug overdose. The guy was piled into as if he was responsible. Then he laid into Stinson Hunter, “the paedophile hunter”, accusing him of being a vigilante and of responsibility for the suicide of an alleged paedophile Stinson had provided the evidence against to the police, who charged the guy.
 
Then onto me. O’Brien suggested “life should mean life”, an interesting enough topic but not the one that we were invited to address. O’Brien suggested murderers were inherently dangerous….and so I couldn’t resist asking why was he sitting next to me then?! Cheeky of me, I know, but I was hacked off with the way the show was unfolding.

 The final straw with me was when O’Brien pompously suggested that I had laughed at my crime. Nice try. Anyone remotely familiar with me will know I never view my crime with  anything less than deadly seriousness. It was a despicable trick.

 Having seen that none of us were actually being asked to address the issue of prison, having seen us being used as some sort of surrogate offender for the victims surrounding us, I unhooked my mic and headed for the door with firm politeness. It was a natural break in the recording, and O’Brien skipped across to intercept me. And I told him my problem – that having being invited along to talk about the utility of prison, all he was doing was slamming us for our past. O’Brien guided me back to my seat, making placatory noises. Then left me in the lurch as some random told me I should be executed. Right to respond? Don’t be silly.

 It wasn’t just me that felt traduced. In the first part of the show you will see me sitting next to a middle aged lady. By the end, she had morphed into a young brunette. The cause of this transformation? The lady had walked out just after me. A victim of crime, she felt this was all more heat than light and left, with tv people trying to tell her she couldn’t. Why? Continuity! And so a new person was snuck into her empty seat. The magic of television was revealed to be a grubby con trick.

 I had words with the Producer afterwards, and he seemed surprised. With a bunch of ex cons and an equal number of victims, there was a genuine opportunity to explore the issue of punishment and prison. This was squandered, deliberately, burned on the altar of what I call zoo tv.  I’d like to think they considered the victims they invited to emote and recall their loss and pain – to no good purpose. But I know I'd be wrong to believe that.

 Never again. Strictly news shows from here. Unless the jungle calls.

 

14 comments:

  1. I'm watching the show now and it's absolutely disgusting. I'm still at a loss as to how it answers or even debates the topic question....well, it simply doesn't!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. posted by "anonymous" says it all really!! #troll

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I welcome disagreement. But comments comprising dull personal abuse will vanish into the ether.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are a rather sad, pathetic little man who chooses to block users and delete posts which don't conform with your "high moral standards"

    Which is why you are too afraid to debate the issue with the public and prefer talks, lectures and giving your opinion on the news to those you know won't dare to (or get the chance) to disagree with you.

    You secretly know that 70-80% of the general public would either have you back behind bars for the rest of your life or worse. But you live in a bubble, surrounding yourself with Prisoner Ben champions and liberal apologists who will cheer on your every move.

    Delete this if you wish but we both know I'm right even if you are too afraid to admit it when you look in the mirror. Dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as twitter trolls, radical feminists and Daily Mail readers is your way of coping with it. Goebbels would be proud of your propaganda.

    I watched you on O'Brien and you couldn't debate with a chocolate fireguard. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So apart from silly abuse, do you have anything coherent to say?

      Delete
    2. Hello, "Tom". Allow me to fill a dreary Saturday to deconstruct your comment. It will entertain me, if not you....

      "You are a rather sad, pathetic little man who chooses to block users and delete posts which don't conform with your "high moral standards"" - Oh dear, "Tom", you didn't bother to check out my comments policy? It is fairly simple. Post whatever you like, and stay Anon if it suits you. What IS deleted are libellous comments (my blog, I'm liable); and personal; abuse. I willingly provide a no pre moderated facility for people to leave comments but I don't see why I should provide space for people to abuse me. So disagree all you like - many do - but personal abuse like yours is likely to vanish. Although I will leave your comment here - it reflects more on you than I, and people should see it, don't you think?

      "Which is why you are too afraid to debate the issue with the public and prefer talks, lectures and giving your opinion on the news to those you know won't dare to (or get the chance) to disagree with you." - What a bizarre claim. If arguing with people across 3 Twitter accounts, 2 Facebook pages and this Blog doesn't count as "arguing with the public", then I'm at a loss.

      You do know that many of my talks are open to the public? Even my guest lectures are attended by the public. My debates are open to the public. People disagree with me all the time, and I put myself in front of critical audiences. Sorry your invitation was lost in the post...

      "You secretly know that 70-80% of the general public would either have you back behind bars for the rest of your life or worse. But you live in a bubble, surrounding yourself with Prisoner Ben champions and liberal apologists who will cheer on your every move." - Wow. Just...wow. Yet again, I remind you that I am available for dissent right across the social media and in my public talks. Sorry you can't grasp that. Oh, and what are these "liberal apologists" cheering?

      As for the public view - you don't know it any clearer than I do, so posting specious statistics doesn't help you. Worse, it wouldn't matter if nearly everyone wanted me back in prison because here is the thing - I DON'T CARE. Justice is dispensed through the criminal justice system, not via opinion poll. So...what?

      Delete this if you wish but we both know I'm right even if you are too afraid to admit it when you look in the mirror. Dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as twitter trolls, radical feminists and Daily Mail readers is your way of coping with it. Goebbels would be proud of your propaganda.

      I dismiss trolls as trolls. I dismiss radfems as radfems. And DM readers...more than once I have said they are my preferred audience, because preaching to the converted is pointless. But hey, you took no time to check out anything before you spouted, so you wouldn't know that, would you?

      "I watched you on O'Brien and you couldn't debate with a chocolate fireguard. LOL" - If you think that was a debate, I suggest you get out more! Every debate I have had which involved an audience vote, I a or my team have won hands down. Lastly at Exeter, against a PCC. Again, I'm sorry you didn't bother doing your research - quality abuse is better than stupid assertions. Just a tip...

      Delete
  6. Poor Ben got a kicking on the show - no wonder he doesn't want to go back. Can't blame him really. Half of that audience would have lynched him given the chance. It was bear baiting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The guy doesn't deserve any sympathy. He killed a kid FFS and spent 30 years in jail. What is wrong with some people? He's no messiah, just a very naughty boy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You look like a happy man, keep it up :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well said Conversion Sussex. It takes guts to go on a national television programme and to be treated like that is disgusting. These shows like O'Brien and Jeremy Kyle are only out to embarrass and humiliate their guests.

    Just a shame Ben wasn't allowed to put his points across without being shot down by the arrogant bloke at the back who looked a right tosser. A Conservative, Daily Mail reader no doubt.

    Bring back Kilroy. At least he gave everyone a fair crack of the whip.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A pity Ben wasn't asked his views on why he hates all women. That deserves a show of its own. Sad and pathetic loser.

    ReplyDelete